Ben Stokes today admitted he downed 12 or more drinks before he knocked out two men in a street brawl – but denied he was drunk, aggressive or homophobic that night.
The England star, 27, had four beers and eight vodka and lemonades as he celebrated his team’s win over the West Indies in Bristol last September.
Stokes, who was called the ‘main aggressor’ by a police officer who saw him shatter a man’s eye socket, floored two men who allegedly told him: ‘Shut up or I’ll bottle you’ after they were rude to a gay couple.
He told the jury: ‘I was protecting myself. I took the decision very quickly. I knew not just myself but other people could be a target of either of these two men’.
It came as police body camera footage showing the moment Stokes was arrested and put in handcuffs was released today.
This morning defendant Ryan Hale, 28, walked free after trial judge Peter Blair QC told Bristol Crown Court ‘there has been no evidence whatsoever’ he was guilty of affray.
Hale told the jury he feared for his life when Stokes attacked him and his friend Ryan Ali, 27, claiming he was an ‘innocent bystander getting assaulted brutally for nothing’.
The former soldier said he was knocked out cold and said: ‘I thought he could have killed me. I don’t know why he didn’t stop. He could have beaten the living hell out of me’.
He added: ‘I was in the Army, I know what self-defence is, you can use reasonable force. If someone is with a bottle and you want to stop it, once you’ve disarmed him that’s it’.
PC Stacey Alway told him: ‘A guy over there was covered in blood and I’ve been told you punched him’.
Stokes then says it was because they were ‘abusing my two friends for being gay’ and then asks for his handcuffs to be loosened.
The cricketer this afternoon started giving evidence about why he left two men unconscious during the drunken street brawl following England’s win over West Indies earlier that day.
Stokes swore on the Bible before beginning his evidence.
He said that after the match the team went out into Bristol city centre.
After the game he drank a beer, but had to drive so didn’t have a lot.
He drove from the cricket ground to the hotel, where he, his wife Clare and some team-mates had dinner and he drank two or three pints of lager .
He drank ‘five or six vodkas’ at Mbargo in the Clifton Triangle, where they left teammates Liam Plunkett and Jonny Bairstow.
The cricketers stayed between 45 minutes and an hour at Pryzm, and Stokes said he would have had ‘more than one’ vodka and mixers.
He then returned to Mbargo again he and Hales were not allowed in because it was after 2am.
Stokes said doorman Andrew Cunningham told them they would not be allowed back in.
‘(He was) pretty blunt,’ Stokes said.
Asked about offering Mr Cunningham money, Stokes said it would have been around £60 or £70 but not £300.
‘I would say it was £60, £70. I would say ‘If we give you some money can we come in?’. (He said) ‘No, you’re not getting in’,’ Stokes said.
Describing Mr Cunningham’s tone, the cricketer said: ‘It was still blunt but there was definitely a change in his attitude from when we offered him money to get back into the club.
‘The tone and the way he was speaking to us just changed. It went from being just blunt and started to be a bit more…
‘It was like he had something against us because we had offered him money to get back in’.
Stokes added: ‘I didn’t use the c-word towards him. I said to him ‘Come on mate, I’ve got s*** tattoos as well, let us back in’.’
Mr Cole asked Stokes to explain the reference to ‘s*** tattoos’ and he replied: ‘I am constantly getting told by teammates and by who I play with that I have got s*** tattoos.’
The prosecution claim that Stokes turned his attention to two gay men, William O’Connor and Kai Barry.
Mr Stokes denied flicking a cigarette butt at Mr Barry and Mr O’Connor or mimicking them because they were ‘camp’.
He said he been wearing black ripped jeans, a green t-shirt and white Buscemi high-top shoes with gold padlocks on the back.
‘My attire on that night got mentioned,’ he said. ‘It was one of the gay couple.’
When asked if his exchanges were ‘homophobic’, he said: ‘No, definitely not’.
He said they were discussing what they were all wearing and told: ‘I get told by quite a lot of my teammates that I dress the worst in the team. The only comments between myself and the gay couple was what we had chosen to wear that night’.
The jurors watched the CCTV clip of what appears to be Stokes flicking a cigarette butt towards one of the gay men.
‘I don’t remember flicking a cigarette towards anyone,’ he said.
‘Obviously, it looks like I have thrown something in the direction of one of those two gentlemen.’
He said before leaving he shook the hand of one of the two doormen, but Mr Cunningham refused to accept his hand.
He and Hales then walked away and were planning to find a casino with the help of Mr Hales’ iphone.
He recalled looking back when he walked by Ali, Mr Hale, Mr O’Connor and Mr Barry. Stokes said moments later he witnessed a confrontation and shouting between the four people.
He said Ali and Mr Hale were shouting homophobic comments at Mr O’Connor and Mr Barry, who were combating verbally what was being said to them.
He said at the time he was looking for a taxi.
Stokes told the jury he addressed Ali and Mr Hale, saying: ‘You shouldn’t be taking the p*** because their gay.
‘I was told by Mr Ali something along the lines of ‘shut up or I’ll bottle you’.
‘I then went on the same lines as they shouldn’t be saying what they were saying because they were gay.’